Christian expatriates in Yemen were left shaken in June after six Christian aid workers and three children were abducted while on a day trip.
Shepherds found the bodies of two German nurses and a South Korean teacher in a riverbed in Saada, a mountainous province near Saudi Arabia known for tensions between Shiite Houthi rebels and the government. Still missing at press time were a British engineer, a German doctor, his wife, and their three children all under age 5.
The group was working at a Saada hospital through Worldwide Services, a Dutch charity that places medical personnel in developing countries. The charity is reevaluating its presence in Yemen.
The kidnapping of foreigners by tribal groups has become common in poverty-stricken Yemen, but most abductions are resolved nonviolently with ransoms. No group claimed responsibility for the killings, but investigators reported signs of Sunni extremists such as Al Qaeda.
The three women were found with "missionary materials" among their possessions, according to The Times of London. German investigators said the group had been warned by local mullahs to discontinue evangelism in the area.
The kidnapping caused many Christians in Yemen to review their security arrangements. The martyrdoms evoked memories of December 2002, when three Southern Baptists were killed at their Christian hospital in southwestern Yemen by an Islamic militant.
Christian workers from South Korea were particularly concerned that their government would change its Yemen travel warning from "advisory" to "binding," reported Middle East Concern. The declaration would effectively force South Koreans to leave the country and significantly limit several Christian ministries.
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Christianity Today has special sections on persecution on our site, including:
Standing with the Desolate | The anguish of working for those who suffer for their faith. (March 25, 2009)
Gatecrashing for Jesus | Brother Andrew discusses ministry in the Middle East. (January 31, 2005)
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